NFC North QB play highlights Vikings' need

The Packers won the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers won the MVP. The Bears followed Jay Cutler to the NFC Championship Game. Quarterback play in the NFC North is at a high level and Leslie Frazier knows it and has been consistent in his message this offseason.

It's a quick-changing NFL, but the Lombardi Trophy is going back to Green Bay.

Last year, the Vikings were a late interception and field goal away from the Super Bowl. This year, the Chicago Bears were battling the Green Bay Packers for the NFC title. The Packers' Super Bowl win underscores how well-represented the NFC North has been late into the playoffs the last two years, having three of the four participants in the last two conference title games.

Leslie Frazier had been singing the praises of the division well before the Packers put the title back in Titletown. In fact, while the Packers fought through 15 players going on injured reserve through the season and the losses of cornerback Charles Woodson and receiver Donald Driver in the Super Bowl, there was one player that remained a constant – quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

He started all but one game for the Packers this year. Only twice did his quarterback rating slip below 70 during the regular season – both losses. He also posted only a 55.4 rating against Chicago in the playoffs, but the Packers were able to overcome the bitter cold in the conference championship game because of Jay Cutler's struggles and eventual game-ending injury.

With Rodgers, Cutler and Detroit's Matthew Stafford all the offensive catalysts of their teams, the Vikings' need at quarterback was underscored long before Rodgers took home the Pete Rozelle Trophy for the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

"The fact that the teams in our division are really solid at that position, it just gives you a sense of urgency to try to get it right – not just for this season, but for years to come," Frazier said while looking at potential draft picks at the Senior Bowl. "If there's one thing that I'd like us to feel good going into training camp, (it is) that we're going to get that question answered."

Frazier was asked again later what his number one goal was before training camp, and again he referenced the quarterback position and the competition in the NFC North.

"I really hope we can get that quarterback position settled before we get to training camp. We have a good feel for, OK, this guy is going to give a good chance when we get to camp to really compete and we've got the right two or three guys there who we feel like we're going to compete for the NFC North next season, and then you can fill in all the other pieces to the puzzle," he said. "But just being able to sleep at night knowing that you put that to rest."

The Green Bay Packers were 10-6 and overcame a 3-3 start to the season. Rodgers passed for 3,922 yards, 28 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 101.2 rating in the regular season. He was even better in the playoffs, posting a 109.8 rating.

Cutler was more erratic than Rodgers. As Cutler went, so went the Bears. He had five games with a rating above 100 and the Bears won them all. He had six games with a rating below 70 and the Bears lost five of them on their way to an 11-5 record.

The Lions are still putting it together and Stafford barely got to play in 2010 because of a right shoulder he injured twice before his season was done after three games played – all of them with ratings between 85 and 100.

The success of the NFC North teams can be attributed to many factors, but none more important than the play of the quarterback position, whether talking about Brett Favre's 2009 season or Aaron Rodgers' 2010 season.

"Our division is arguably now the toughest division in the league. The NFC North," Frazier said Sunday night on Rosen's Sport Sunday. "When you're talking about Chicago and Green Bay playing for the NFC Championship, that tells you how tough are division is. We've got our work cut out for us, and we're the one team in our division that has an unsettled quarterback situation. So we want to be able to get that fixed."

It's a recurring theme with Frazier – and rightly so – in the first month of the Vikings' offseason, but they might not be so far into their offseason if they had better quarterback play in 2010.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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